The order Cetacea includes the whales, dolphins and porpoises and comprise the mammals most fully adapted to aquatic life. It contains 81 known species organized in two suborders: Mysticeti (baleen whales) and Odontoceti (toothed whales, which includes dolphins and porpoises). The order contains several record breaking species, with the Blue Whale being the largest animal known, and the Orca being the most widely distributed animal.
Cetaceans evolved from land mammals that adapted to marine life about 50 million years ago. Over a period of a few millions of years during the Eocene, the cetaceans returned to the sea. Their body is fusiform (spindle-shaped), the forelimbs are modified into flippers, the tiny hindlimbs are vestigial and the tail has horizontal flukes. Cetaceans are nearly hairless, and are insulated by a thick layer of blubber.
Cetaceans inhabit all of the world's oceans, as well as some rivers in South America and Asia. Some species can be found across the globe.
Cetology is the branch of marine science associated with the study of cetaceans.
The Sei Whale (Balaenoptera borealis) is a baleen whale, the third largest rorqual after the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale. It can be found worldwide in all oceans and adjoining seas, and prefers deep off-shore waters. It tends to avoid polar and tropical waters and semi-enclosed bodies of water. The Sei Whale migrates annually from cool and subpolar waters in summer to temperate and subtropical waters for winter, although in most areas the exact migration routes are not well known.
The whales reach lengths of up to 20 metres (66 ft) long and weigh up to 45 tonnes (50 tons). It consumes an average of 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) of food each day, primarily copepods and krill, and other zooplankton. It is among the fastest of all cetaceans, and can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) over short distances.
Following large-scale commercial hunting of the species between the late-nineteenth and late-twentieth centuries when over 238,000 individuals were taken, the Sei Whale is now an internationally protected species, although limited hunting still occurs under controversial research programmes conducted by Iceland and Japan. As of 2006, the worldwide population of the Sei Whale was about 54,000, about a fifth of its pre-whaling population.
26 August - Findings from the controversial Japanese whaling research program suggest that a loss of Antarctic sea ice due to increased temperatures has lowered whales' food supply, causing an overall decline in blubber. Read more...
A dolphinarium is an aquarium for dolphins. The dolphins are usually kept in a large pool, though occasionally they may be kept in pens in the open sea, either for research or for public performances. Some dolphinariums consist of one pool where dolphins perform for the public (such as above at Loro Parque), others have expanded into much larger parks, keeping other marine animals and having other attractions.